It’s never too early to start preparing for law school. Below we address some questions that undergraduates may have as they contemplate pursuing law school and a legal career.
FRESHMEN AND SOPHOMORES: THINKING ABOUT LAW SCHOOL?
WHAT CAN I DO NOW TO BEGIN PREPARING FOR LAW SCHOOL?
If you're a prospective law student in your first year of undergraduate school, you should focus on finding a major in which you can be successful, and then focus on achieving the highest GPA possible. Your GPA is one of two “hard factors” that ONU Law takes into consideration and, therefore, carries more weight than “soft factors,” which include your personal statement, transcript, letters of recommendation and résumé. You should also meet with a professor or academic advisor to discuss the best track for pre-law students at your specific undergraduate institution. The best pre-law track does not necessarily mean becoming a pre-law, political science or philosophy major. Consider history, English or other majors that require extensive writing. Discuss with your advisor the best plan for your future law career.
Investigating law school now can help you identify which law schools to research in-depth later in your undergraduate career. It is also a good idea, but not mandatory, to shadow one or several attorneys to get a good idea of what the day-to-day work of an attorney may look like. Summer internships in law firms are not required to be accepted into law school, but are beneficial for you as a future lawyer, and are encouraged.
WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO STUDY FOR THE LSAT?
There are many resources available to help you study for the LSAT. The tools you select to assist you in your preparation will depend on your style of studying. LSAC.org offers many resources for students at no cost. Khan Academy, in collaboration with LSAC, has developed the first official online test prep program—Khan Academy Official LSAT Prep. Get started using the diagnostic assessment to create a personalized practice plan that builds the skills and confidence to succeed on the LSAT. Best of all, it’s 100% free.
LSAC.org also has many handbooks and practice tests that are available for purchase. In addition, Kaplan and The Princeton Review offer extensive prep books, online resources and courses in which you can enroll. Additionally, the career services office at your undergraduate institution will most likely offer timed practice tests. Choose the technique that works best for you, but preparing in advance for the LSAT will be a worthwhile investment of your time.
WHAT MAJORS DO LAW SCHOOLS PREFER? ARE THERE CERTAIN CLASSES I NEED TO TAKE?
ONU Law accepts students from all majors, not just traditional pre-law undergraduate majors such as political science and history. The 2019 fall entering class represented 22 different majors. Although political science, history and philosophy are always popular, students who study extensively in those subjects do not have a leg up on students who choose to major in journalism or biology. There are, however, several types of helpful courses that you can take to prepare for law school. Courses that focus on critical thinking, writing and reading complex texts are always looked on positively in the application-review process because they prepare you for many of the courses that you will take in law school. However, you can learn these important skills in almost any major. We recommend that you major in a subject that you are interested in and will allow you to be the most successful. If you have elective course options or several credits you need to fill during a semester, take an English or philosophy course that will help you hone your critical-thinking, analysis and writing skills.
JUNIORS AND SENIORS: YOUR NEXT STEPS
WHAT IS THE LSAT AND LSAC?
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), which can provide many resources for you during any stage of your law school search process. The LSAT is the standardized test that is used by all law schools as a predictor of future success in law school. The LSAT measures acquired-reading and verbal-reasoning skills, and it's one of multiple factors used by ONU Law when reviewing a file. The LSAT is considered a “hard factor,” along with your GPA, and is weighed with great importance.
WHAT IS THE CAS?
The Credential Assembly Service (CAS) will compile all of your application data, including transcripts, LSAT scores, timed writing sample, and letters of recommendation. Once compiled, all of your submitted information will be sent to the law schools to which you have applied. The CAS allows you to submit your application only once, and the CAS compiles and submits your application to the selected schools. ONU Law requires that you enroll in the CAS as part of the application process.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TAKE THE LSAT AND APPLY TO LAW SCHOOL?
The LSAT requires a $200 registration fee, and additional fees are required for late registration, test date changes, etc. The CAS requires a $195 registration fee, and ONU Law requires that you register with the CAS. ONU Law’s application is free online, but many other law schools require fees to submit their applications. LSAC also charges applicants a $45 processing fee for each application submitted.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO TAKE THE LSAT? SHOULD I TAKE IT MORE THAN ONCE?
Most prospective law students take the LSAT following their junior year in June, September or December. Although these are the most popular times to take the LSAT, it is important to take the LSAT only when you have had time to properly and thoroughly prepare for the exam. If you're taking the exam for a second time, expect to receive a score in a range of either five points above or below your original score. Law schools will see all of the scores you have received on the LSAT. ONU Law will take the highest LSAT score you have on record. You should only take the LSAT for a second time if you have had sufficient time to study and prepare. It is not recommended that you take the LSAT more than three times. LSAT scores are valid for five years, so it is possible to take the LSAT earlier in your undergraduate career if you do not wish to wait until your senior year.
WHAT DOCUMENTS SHOULD I HAVE READY WHEN I APPLY TO LAW SCHOOL?
You should have the following pieces of information available when completing your application: LSAT scores, names of recommenders, personal statement and résumé.
DO LAW SCHOOLS LOOK AT MY TRANSCRIPT(S)?
ONU Law reviews and considers every aspect of an application throughout the admissions process. Your transcript can play a crucial role in helping the reviewer understand your academic history. Ideally, ONU Law would like to see a strong GPA each semester, earned while you took challenging academic courses throughout your entire academic career. It also is positive and extremely important that the reviewer sees a positive progression within your undergraduate career. An upward trend should be evident when looking at your transcript. It is important that you take challenging courses within your major up to, and including, your last semester.
WHERE SHOULD I SEND MY LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION AND TRANSCRIPTS?
Your letters of recommendation and transcripts must be sent directly to LSAC from the recommenders and registrar’s office, respectively. A transcript must be submitted from any institution, graduate or undergraduate, that you may have attended. LSAC’s Transcript Request Form, available after you register with the CAS, must be used for this purpose. A transcript takes, on average, two weeks to be processed, and most institutions charge a nominal processing fee. Letters of recommendation may be submitted by mail or uploaded online. You may select recommenders and assign them to the appropriate law school using your LSAC.org account. Once assigned, the request for the recommendation will be emailed to the recommender, and the letter can be uploaded through LSAC. You may also print the recommender form and give to your recommender to sign and mail in with the accompanying letter.
HOW MANY LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION DO I NEED? WHO SHOULD WRITE THEM AND WHAT SHOULD THEY SAY?
ONU Law will accept up to three letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation should be written by professors or employers that can speak to your academic abilities. Letters of recommendation are most commonly written by professors and academic advisors; however, you also can ask an employer or alumnus of the law school to write a recommendation letter. The alumnus or employer should speak to your character and attributes that would make you a successful law student. Successful letters of recommendation, whether written by academics or employers, should identify specific reasons why you would be successful in law school.
WHAT DOES ONU LAW LOOK FOR IN A PERSONAL STATEMENT?
The internet alone can provide hundreds of resources and suggestions on writing a personal statement. However, your pre-law advisor or career services office should be your first stop when looking for helpful tools and techniques for beginning your personal statement. It is also highly recommended that you have a professor or advisor review your personal statement for structural or grammatical errors. First and foremost, the personal statement shows the admissions committee your best writing skills while providing a clear picture of why you want to attend law school and what makes you a qualified and diverse candidate. Students often share personal anecdotes that describe a particular experience that led to their interest in law. ONU Law looks for personal statements without any spelling or grammatical errors. The Office of Law Admissions at ONU reviews hundreds of personal statements each year, so it is important to create a piece of writing that is unique, while clarifying your interest in studying the law.
WHAT MAKES A RÉSUMÉ STAND OUT? HOW DO YOU WEIGH WORK EXPERIENCE?
A résumé stands out to the reviewer when it is clean and professional. A résumé can be impressive in many different ways. ONU Law looks highly on students who were involved during their undergraduate careers, participated extensively in several organizations or took a strong leadership role in just one. Additionally, work experience, whether part-time or full-time, is a positive aspect of any résumé and shows that you have mastered the balance between working and studying.
HOW DO YOU CONSIDER AN APPLICANT WITH GRADUATE EXPERIENCE?
Graduate experience is positive if you were successful in studying at the graduate level in an area that was of interest to you. ONU Law is not required to report your graduate GPA; therefore, graduate school experience is one of the many soft factors considered when reviewing your application in its entirety.
HOW DO YOU WEIGH THE GPA VS. THE LSAT SCORE?
Your GPA and LSAT scores are both hard factors that ONU Law considers and are weighed equally. Your LSAT score and undergraduate GPA are the top two predictors for success in law school and must be used accordingly in making admission decisions.